Constantine Clarifies Law Banning Decurions From Joining Clergy

Constantine Clarifies Law Banning Decurions From Joining Clergy

Constantine the Great
Source: Bija

Timeline of History

Religious History
Christian History
Church & State History

Constantine the Great clarifies a law banning decurions from joining the clergy. Those who did so before the law was created will be allowed to remain priests, but everyone else will be stripped of their status and returned to the class of decurions.

Constantine's decree says:

"No decurion or descendant of a decurion or anyone else with enough resources to engage in compulsory public services will be permitted to join the clergy.

When clerics die, only those with slender fortunes and who are not held bound to such compulsory municipal services will be chosen.

Some of those being criticized for this joined the clergy before the law against this was created, so we command that they be free from harassment.

Others who have evaded their public duties by taking refuge in the clergy after the law was created must be separated from that body and be restored to their orders and to the municipal councils where they must shall perform their municipal duties." [CTh 16.2.3]

As Christianity becomes more popular, it starts attracting more and more followers from the wealthier classes. This presents a problem if they join any ranks of clergy and thereby shield their property from taxes or state use. If too many do this, then the tax base shrinks and the government is unable to meet its obligations.

There will be several laws issued by the emperors over the next few centuries which are clearly designed to prevent this.


Emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity

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